Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Ronke Akinsola, University of Toronto (Rotman)

Ronke Akinsola

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

“Energetic investment professional, currently passionate about developing targeted investment products that solve individual and social problems.”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love exploring places and, in my quest to discover new cities, I solo travelled to 4 African countries, where I participated in several tour activities such as boat riding to the Prison Island and game viewing at Masai Mara Safari. I love listening to music and can’t help but bust some moves when I hear fast beat songs, which sometimes involves bits of silliness (all for fun).

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Lagos, B.Sc Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Head, Financial Services Research at Chapel Hill Denham

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? It was the value of a Rotman MBA (not just in Canada but also internationally), the course content of the program, the strength of Rotman’s Finance MBA concentration, and the opportunity to major in Funds Management. I was also drawn to the innovative aspect of the program via the creative destruction lab given my interest in product development. The school’s ability to support my post MBA career ambition in the finance industry through dedicated and robust career services as well as a strong alumni network within the industry was another key factor I considered. Rotman’s location at the second largest financial centre in North America further supported this. The focus on diversity and ability to build a solid network of diverse students was also a plus.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Considering my current interest in women empowerment and investment management, I am excited about the R-Women initiative of Rotman’s Finance Club, the Rotman Asset Management Association, and the Women in Management Association. I am looking forward to seeing how best I can contribute my bit and actively participate, where possible, by utilizing my skills in adding value to the activities of the clubs.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  As a junior analyst, I single-handedly wrote a strategic report on one of the listed companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange under my coverage (the largest cement company in Africa and the most capitalized stock in Nigeria). This was my first full report as a research analyst. With the support of my senior colleagues, I was able to deliver an exceptional job. The investors who requested for the report were very impressed with the quality and suggested that my firm organized a roadshow on the back of the report. We liaised with the stockbroking team and had an industrial goods sector focused road show with the firm’s institutional clients.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? On completing my undergrad, I planned to pursue an MBA after working for 5 years. However, as events unfolded in the course of my career, I decided to develop more leadership experience while completing the CFA program before commencing the MBA program. After working for about 7 years as a research analyst, I started actively considering an MBA as I had a strong desire to build my business skills before transferring my technical skills to the asset management industry post-MBA.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Ivey Business School, Western University

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? What people at my most recent firm will most miss about me? This was difficult for me as I am so many different things to different people across the firm (an analyst, an intercessor, a confidant, a motivator, a teacher, a guide, a mentor, a fun-lover, a friend, a sister, among many others!). It actually got me emotional as at that point I realised the different ways I had touched so many lives during my 6 years with the firm.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? The values of the school that resonated well with me (such as diversity and excellence for Rotman). Ranking was important, but the value of the school’s program to my post-MBA ambition in terms of networking and career opportunities was more important. I had to rely on researching on alumni and speaking with current students of the schools I applied to before making my final decision. With these, I got better understanding of the schools’ structure and culture as well as how the program would contribute to the achievement of my post MBA career goals. I am also intrigued by whatever will challenge me and I believe the intensity of the Rotman MBA program, as disclosed by students, is enough to push me to reach beyond my natural limits.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Definitely completing the CFA Program and somewhat realising that I personally needed a new learning curve before fully launching a career in investment management. My intention to also focus on product development and investment strategy within the asset management industry also steered in me a desire to obtain knowledge in business development. A few months before my MBA, I founded an online community (The LayWOman Investor) focused on financial and investment education, which further emphasized the importance of an MBA not just to my corporate career, but also to building a personal enterprise.

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer and why is that so important? Adaptability. The outbreak of COVID-19 and how much impact it has had on individuals, businesses and governments in such as short amount of time has shown the need to have dynamic thinkers. Business models have been adjusted or in some cases completely changed post the onset of the corona virus pandemic. I will be looking out for companies that have not only adapted to the new normal, but are also structured to survive in a continuously changing business and economic environment and have the financial capacity and flexibility to do so without compromising on their core values.


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